Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
The Detroit Tigers started off their season series with the Houston Astros with a 2-0 victory on the back of Max Scherzer(W, 4-1, 1.72 ERA), who was dominant through eight innings and gave the lethargic Tigers’ lineup a chance to warm back up to their home park. Scherzer’s only real struggle was in his final inning. The Astros were threatening after a walk to Marc Krauss and a single to Jonathon Villar, but Max was able to produce a flyout and a beautiful strike out – throw out double play to end the inning and keep the one run lead intact. Scherzer had all of his pitches working against the Astros, and gave his finest performance of the season yet. His final line reads: eight innings pitched, three hits, no runs, one walk, and nine strikeouts. As Tigers’ broadcaster Rod Allen would say, Have a day, Max. I see you.
Joe Nathan(S, 4.63 ERA) was shaky to start, walking Dexter Fowler to lead off the ninth. But Nathan was saved by another spot on throw by Avila to catch Fowler stealing. Nathan then settled in and closed the game, earning his sixth save of the season.
The Tigers’ offense got off to a very slow start, though they did have a scoring opportunity in the first inning. Ian Kinsler reached base on an error by short stop Villar, but Kinsler was once again caught sleeping on the base paths and was the second out of Miguel Cabrera‘s double play, taking far too big a lead at third base, and allowing Marc Krauss to throw behind him and create a run down situation. Aside from that, the Tigers had very little success at the plate against Houston’s starter, Jarred Cosart, until the seventh inning. After the Astros’ second error of the night, this time on first baseman Villar, allowed Nick Castellanos to reach base, Alex Avila walked and Andrew Romine laid down a sacrifice bunt to move both runners into scoring position. A single by Rajai Davis plated Castellanos for the first run of the game, but the rally was short lived after Ian Kinsler grounded into a double play. The Tigers’ bats were back in the bottom of the eighth, with Victor Martinez(who earlier in the game saw his streak of no caught looking strike outs come to an end) sending an insurance run into the right field stands for his fifth homer of the season.